The US government is exploring 14 Covid-19 vaccine candidates out of more than 100 currently in development worldwide, with plans to narrow the list to about seven before further testing, senior Trump administration officials said during a telephone briefing on Tuesday.
Large-scale, randomized trials would then be conducted with the most promising candidates from those seven.
How they will decide on the seven is an ongoing discussion but the criteria will be those that are safest, most effective and technologies that lend themselves to faster manufacturing to scale.
More on the vaccine candidates: Some of the 14 vaccine candidate options are already in clinical trials with US government support.
The senior administration officials did not specify which 14 candidates are being considered, but some vaccine candidates have been previously identified receiving government support.
In March, the US Department of Health and Human Services announced $456 million in funds for Johnson & Johnson’s candidate vaccine, with phase one clinical trials set to begin this summer.
The following month, HHS made around $483 million available to Moderna in support of its candidate vaccine, which began phase one trials on March 16 and received a fast-track designation from US Food and Drug Administration, which makes it eligible for “accelerated approval” and “priority review” and ensures frequent communication with the FDA throughout the approval process.
And in May, HHS announced more than a billion dollars in support of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate, being developed in conjunction with the University of Oxford, along with a pledge to eventually make 300 million doses available to the United States with the first ones being delivered as early as October.
The senior administration officials cautioned that it is not 100% certain a viable vaccine will come from the 14 candidates, and there is a chance that if one is developed it could be better suited to certain demographics.
But the government is taking as many steps as possible to ensure a safe and effective vaccine by January, officials said.
If and when a vaccine is developed, officials said they do not expect to vaccinate all Americans initially and certain groups will be prioritized.